YUMA, Ariz. - Highway 95 is Arizona's busiest two-lane road and it's also the most popular way for thousands of Yuma Proving Ground employees to get to and from work.
It's also the site of hundreds of car accidents every year. This year alone there have already been 47 crashes, one resulting in the death of a soldier.
The long list of safety concerns is now leading YPG to work with the Department of the Army and the Arizona Governor's Office to try and change the jurisdiction on the road so they can assist and write citations on the highway.
“When I attended the Arizona Transportation Summit in October of last year, it became clear to me that Highway 95 is probably one of, if not the most deadly roads, outside of the Phoenix, metro belt area,” said Chief Donnie Lucas with the YPG Police Department.
The YPG Police Department patrols the area leading up to the Army’s biggest and busiest testing center.
Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls said the road is used for commerce, agriculture, and those at YPG. Chief Lucas added animals also freely roam the area.
"We have about 35,000 visitors a year that come down that roadway. On average, the road itself is about 25,000 cars a week. That can run well-excess of 100,000 vehicles in a year's time easily,” explained Chief Lucas.
Mayor Doug Nicholls even took the issue all the way to the nation’s capital where he expressed the importance of widening the road.
"They were very receptive to the idea and they understood the importance. Especially after we started explaining how it serves the Department of Defense and how it serves the greater economy of the state and the safety issues that are really at the center of what the request is,” said Mayor Nicholls.
The Yuma Metropolitan Planning Organization said widening the road has not been a high priority for Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) because it doesn’t rank as high as other roadways do, according to their ranking system.
"During the peak hours, in the morning and in the afternoon, the traffic volumes are incredibly high; however during the whole day, they’re not incredibly high. Butted so when you’re looking at average daily traffic counts, which ADOT looks at as a whole, the road doesn’t become a particularly important piece of roadway," said Paul Ward, YMPO.
Accidents and those that result in fatalities also play a part in the ranking, according to Ward.
Ward explained the money that ADOT could use towards the widening of the road would come for the taxes you pay every time you fill up your gas tank, but this money goes into a general fund to fix roads in every other county across the state.
That’s when the ranking process comes into play.